Diagnostic testing for the novel coronavirus linked to the Itaewon cluster surged eightfold on the back of anonymity guaranteed to encourage sexual minorities to get tested, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said Thursday.
The number of tests carried out to date in connection with Itaewon, a popular nightlife district in Seoul, stood at 24,082 in the capital city, according to Park.
“We are seeing the effects of anonymous testing. … After the implementation of anonymous testing, the average number of testing in Seoul has risen eight times,” he said during an interview with a local radio show.
“The goal is to get them (those who visited Itaewon) to undergo testing.”
For privacy reasons, he added, the Seoul City government does not intend to share the personal details of anonymous test-takers who are found to have COVID-19.
Across the country, nearly 35,000 people linked to the Itaewon cluster have undergone testing, with 133 returning positive results for COVID-19, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters.
Park and health authorities called on those who had been to the party district between April 24 and May 6 to be tested for the dangerous contagion, which has been spreading at a fast pace and is increasingly putting many on edge over undetected virus carriers within communities.
They added that penalties of up to 2 million won ($1,630) could be slapped on those who forgo tests and are later found to have visited nightlife establishments within the time frame.
By Kim Bo-gyung (email@example.com